Fire rally for draw at Columbus in season opener

Fire rally for draw at Columbus in season opener

It is a new season with some new players for the Chicago Fire, but Saturday's game in Columbus still started with a very familiar feel.

The first half was reminiscent of many of the Fire's road matches in 2016. Fall behind early, struggle to keep possession, struggle to get shots on target. The Fire had two shots in the first half, none were on goal.

The second half, though, was a different story and the Fire were able to leave Ohio with a 1-1 draw thanks to a David Accam goal in the 73rd minute.

Columbus got things started early with a great chance in the third minute. A Justin Meram shot from point blank range was hit right at Jorge Bava, who was in position for the save.

The Crew would later take the lead in the 17th minute though. Ethan Finlay headed in a Justin Meram cross to make it 1-0.

In the second half the Fire had some extended periods of possession and had 10 shots, three on target. The Fire, which had 44 percent of the possession in the first half and just over 46 percent in the second half, were able to get on the ball a bit more and put more pressure on Columbus.

That was rewarded when Dax McCarty intercepted a ball just past the halfway line to start an attack. He fed John Goossens, who gave David Accam the ball in the box, allowing him to work his magic. Accam put some moves on fellow Ghanaian Jonathan Mensah to set up his right foot and put a low curled shot out of reach from Crew goalkeeper Zack Steffen.

"I think the main (halftime) message they gave us was believe in ourselves," Accam said in the postmatch interview on the CSN Chicago broadcast. "I know we have a very strong forward lineup and for us we needed one chance."

Both teams had chances in the final 15 minutes as the game opened up down the stretch, but neither could convert. The Fire also had a draw in the first road match of 2016, a 1-1 result in Orlando with another Accam goal, but finished with just one win and one more draw in the remaining 16 road matches.

With midfielder Juninho suspended and his likely replacement Matt Polster still injured, Goossens played in central midfield along with McCarty. Goossens subbed off in the final minute of the match after going down with what appeared to be an ankle or knee injury. In his place was second-year homegrown Drew Conner, who made his brief MLS debut.

The Fire's home opener is next Saturday against Real Salt Lake.

Chicago Fire's 'MLS is Back' opening match postponed due to COVID-19

Chicago Fire's 'MLS is Back' opening match postponed due to COVID-19

MLS announced on Tuesday that the Chicago Fire’s first game back after the season was suspended due to COVID-19 has been postponed.

The Fire were supposed to play Nashville SC on Wednesday in their opening Group A match of the MLS is Back tournament. But since arriving in Orlando for the tournament, five Nashville players tested positive for COVID-19 and four others received inclusive results, requiring more testing. As a result, MLS is now evaluating Nashville’s participation in the tournament.

The Fire will now return to play on July 14 against Inter Miami CF.

The Fire also announced that the Drive-In Matchday event that was scheduled for Wednesday’s game has been rescheduled for their July 19 game against New York City FC. Fans who registered for that event will have the opportunity to sign-up again for the new date.

This is the second Chicago pro sports match altered as leagues try to return to play. The Chicago Red Stars also had a game cancelled in late June due to Orlando Pride players testing positive for COVID-19.

As MLB, the NHL and the NBA gear up to return it remains to be seen how they will react in a similar situation.

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MLS announces return to play plan for tournament at Disney World

USA Today

MLS announces return to play plan for tournament at Disney World

MLS soccer is coming back this summer.

The league announced a plan to have all 26 MLS clubs resume play on July 8 with a league-wide “MLS is Back Tournament.”

The games will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World, without fans in the stands.

Here’s how it will work:

Clubs can arrive in Orlando to begin training on June 24. Then a group stage will begin July 8 followed by a knockout stage, starting July 25.

There will be six groups, three for each the Western and Eastern Conferences. The group stage draw will occur on June 11 at 2:30 p.m. CT.

Each team will play three group stage matches, and the results from those games will count in the 2020 MLS regular season standings.

Then the top two teams from each group, plus the four best third-place finishers will advance to the knockout stage. That stage starts with a round-of-16, followed by quarterfinals, semifinals and then the championship game. The championship game will be played on August 11.

In case of a tie at the end of regulation in the knockout stage, games will proceed directly to a penalty kick shootout.

The winner of the tournament will earn a berth in the 2021 Concacaf Champions League.

At the conclusion of the tournament, MLS will resume its regular season followed by the MLS Cup Playoffs and MLS Cup.

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